Bahrain - Sixteen F16 fighter jets costing $3.8 billion will be added to Bahrain’s defence assets.
The deal was sealed yesterday between Bahrain and Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp on the sidelines of the Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference (BIDEC).
Royal Bahrain Air
Force Commander Air Vice Marshal Shaikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Khalifa said the first set of aircraft will be received in 2021. He also explained that the agreement includes the purchase of other defence equipment, as well as the possibility of adding three more jets if required.
He was speaking during a Press conference held on the sidelines of the three-day defence forum at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre, which will conclude today.
“This transaction is a continuation of the implementation of the Royal Bahrain Air
Force’s development strategy,” said Air Vice Marshal Shaikh Hamad.
“The agreement was signed between Bahrain and the US by signing an agreement to purchase 16 Lockheed Martin F16 fighter planes.
“The first lot will be received in 2021 and that the deal includes the purchase of other equipment, as well as the possibility of (increasing) the number by an additional three aircraft if needed.
“During this period the Royal Bahrain Air
Force will only contract with Lockheed Martin to purchase its aircraft.”
The agreement will contribute to the air force’s existing F16 fleet, said Air Vice Marshal Shaikh Hamad.
“The reason for the selection of the F16 aircraft is because the RBAF has developed a system of dealing with them over the years, and the deal concluded today comes to complete the system by adding a range of advanced fighter to its present assets,” he added. “The aircraft are the latest models of F16 and the largest.”
The sale of the fighter jets to Bahrain was approved by President Donald Trump’s administration in March, removing controversial conditions imposed by former US President Barack Obama.
“Bahrain has always been a pioneer in the field of aircraft selection and it has the history of dealing with F16 pre-Gulf war aircraft,” said Lockheed Martin Middle East vice president Rick Groes during the Press conference.
“We are currently in discussions with a number of countries not only Bahrain, but also in the region.”
Lockheed Martin is the world’s second largest supplier of F-16 fighter jets to the Middle East.
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